How Sippy Cups Can Cause Speech Difficulties?
What is a Sippy cup and why is it used?
Speech Difficulties – A Sippy cup is a training cup usually made of plastic with a screw or snap-on lid and a spout that lets your child drink without spilling. A Sippy cup is usually preferred as a transition from nursing /bottle feeding to a regular open mouth cup. Most parents encourage children to use sippy cups ( sometimes starting as early as 6 months).
Infant Sucking/Swallowing Reflex
When babies suck milk they through breast or bottle they having a sucking reflex in which they roll their tongue back and forth to get milk. With time this reflex should mature and the tongue should go inside the mouth while feeding.
Oral Motor Development
Looking closely at the research you will find that getting your child used to sippy cups can affect his oral motor development. When children transition from nursing/bottle to hard spout sippy cups they tend to still keep their tongue under the spout which doesn’t let them develop a mature sucking reflex which is needed for normal oral motor development.When toddlers continue to use the infant sucking pattern they can also have poor chewing and swallowing skills affecting their feeding regime.
Children who constantly suck through sippy cups even after the age of 3, might develop an open bite(occurs when upper and lower teeth don’t come together when the mouth is closed). Such children can also have dental problems with primary upper teeth. Kids with open bites can have articulation(pronunciation) errors with speech sounds like, s,t, th etc. Please note** This picture depicts Open Bite. In this case, it has not been caused by Sippy Cups, it is just to show how an open bite and a tongue thrust can look like.
A condition called as Tongue Thrust can also manifest if sippy cups with valves are used excessively. In this condition, the tongue protrudes through the front teeth during speaking, swallowing and even at rest. A child with a tongue thrust can have speech difficulties including misarticulations ( t,d,l,n). The traditional hard spout sippy cups encourage the tongue to sit more forward in the mouth.
Transition with Straw Cups
The next step recommended after nursing/bottle is using a regular cup with the help of an adult. Using a cup will help your child in developing a well-coordinated swallow pattern where he can practice intake of the fluid at his own pace. Alternately you can offer a straw cup to your child. Children who practice drinking from straw get to work up their cheeks, jaws, tongue in a coordinated manner which aids in speech development.
Which Sippy Cups are recommended
Here are some pictures of sippy cups which you can use with your child. Although its best to transition over to regular cups as soon as you can!
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